Questions tagged [european-folklore]

The traditional stories, beliefs, and customs of Europe.

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Can mermaids shapeshift and grow human legs to walk on land?

I've seen movies and tv shows that feature mermaids shapeshifting to grow legs (Pirates of the Caribbean) and I'm wondering if this has any ancient myths behind them?
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Is the Greek myth about the early-flowering crocus, hyacinths and daffodils an authentic version of native Indo-European beliefs?

Is the Greek mythology about the early-flowering crocus, hyacinths and daffodils unchanged and authentically / natively Indo-European ? Like all early bloomers, daffodils are a symbol of rebirth, the ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Are there any accounts of English folklore concerning walking willow trees?

"In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be quite sinister, capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers." On the Wikipedia page for willow it has this single sentence ...
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Would Pantagruel take part in the ritual weeping for Tammuz?

Renaissance Humanists rediscovered Plutarch and Rabelais' Fourth Boook of Pantagruel's adventures quotes at length a famous anecdote from The Failure of the Oracles (Moralia, 5-29), about a divine ...
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Is it safe to "pay the devil with blood" for the power to cast a given spell or curse?

I was watching a show on Romanian witchcraft where they specifically talked about using a lot of blood b/c that's what you use to pay the devil, and that all Romanians have a little of the devil in ...
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Why is purple the color that protects from witches' curse?

I was watching some history channel show about cursed placed, and they featured Romanian witches who cursed the central government for a tax policy. Witchcraft is not taken lightly in Romania. After ...
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2 votes
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Legendary forgotten Kingdom of Lechia

In the past I heard couple of legends about some mythic land in the north of Europe called Lechia. But after reading couple of articles about legendary Kingdom of Lechia I decided to find more ...
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Since when does Valhalla exist in Norse mythology?

Since when does Valhalla exist in Norse mythology ? Like (almost) all Indo-Europeans the Vikings believed in a cycle of life, death and rebirth. Valhalla contradicts this fundamental content of Norse ...
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Why are there different names and appearances for household spirits in Estonian folklore?

In the Estonian folklore Pisuhand, Kratt and Puuk are all household spirits who steal grain and milk for whomever’s house they dwell in. They are described as a goblin or dragon and are an old ...
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Does the Maypole visit humans on May the First?

May the first has a lot of nature deity traditions like The Green Man. Then there is the Maypole. So my question is: does the Maypole visit humans on the first of May? The Maypole may be a pole in ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

According to Project Britain's British Life and Culture it is lucky to touch wood: Lucky to touch wood. We touch; knock on wood, to make something come true. Where does this superstition come ...
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Why you should never buy a broom or wash blankets in May?

According to Project Britain's folklore calendar buying a broom or washing blankets in May should be avoided: Never buy a broom in May or wash blankets. Wash a blanket in May. Wash a dear one away. ...
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What are some references to Mathonwy in Welsh legends?

Mathonwy is the father of Math fab Mathony and a mother godess Dôn in Welsh legend, who is believed to be analogous to Danu from Irish and Vedic legends. Are there any surviving sources, either ...
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What were medieval European myths about redheads?

I have heard that redheads were thought to be vampires, or Judas's descendants, good for spell ingredients, etc... What were common myths these about redheads in the medieval period of Europe (300 AD ...
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European folkloric references to "cold iron" as a ward against supernatural entities?

The wikipedia entry for cold iron references Kipling and Walter Scott. Wondering if there are any surviving folktales involving iron as a ward or weapon against faeries and other supernatural ...
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What is the folkloric origin of "el príncipe azul"?

In Spanish, the folkloric character who would in English be called "Prince Charming" is known as Príncipe Azul, the Blue Prince. The Spanish Wikipedia claims that the origin is from a Romanian ...
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Why are mermaids naked?

In images from Roman to contemporary Britain, mermaids are usually not wearing any clothes. Other types of fairies, spirits, and gods are usually depicted at least partly dressed. Why then are ...
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2 answers
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Cultural association between directions and colors

Inspired by this question on history.stackexchange about the etymology of "Belarus" = "White Russia"... @SigueSigueBen writes in a comment: There is a tradition of giving naming compass directions ...
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What is the mythological status of the 'goethia' demons?

The 'goethia' is a list of numbered (Christian, as in rulers of hell) demons of which their benefits are documented (this one only speaks the truth in a magical circle, this one provides great riches, ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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Pre-Tolkien Orcs in myths or folklore?

So what I'm trying to understand is what exactly pre-Tolkien orcs were like in regards to folklore. I understand that Tolkien has had a massive influence on how we conceptualize many creatures from ...
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4 votes
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What is the original version of "Little Red Riding Hood"?

There is a certain version of "Little Red Riding Hood" that some authors claim to be "the original" version. For example in the Sandman comic: Or from the movie Jin Roh. A quick search on ...
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